This week for my Salt Lake Community College, Genealogy Course we needed to compare another genealogy software program to RootsMagic. I decided to pick 5 things that are a must in RootsMagic for me and see how the other programs measured up. I need to use FamilySearch so the only other programs that work with it are Ancestral Quest (AQ) and Legacy Family Tree, so I decided to compare both against RootsMagic. Here are my findings.
RootsMagic Must Have Features
1. Edit Person Screen and it's spreadsheet layout in chronological order. Columns to see what you have and hover pop-ups to see details. This one screen sold me on RootsMagic the first time I looked at it. My brain just thinks in spreadsheets and having all the facts in chronological order allows me to understand the whole person. I also like being able to highlight a fact and then on the right side of the same screen edit it.
Legacy - To much clicking to find out what info you have. Dislike the separate primary events and other events or facts in a person life. My eye has to do a lot of jumping around to understand the order of events. Too clicky to find all the info you have on a person or add new facts.
AQ - I find this the same as Legacy's person screen. Though their look is different the concept is still the same. Once you get used to a spreadsheet look and feel you just can't go back to the clickiness and disjointed layout to figure out what you have on a person.
2. Side bar with options to view an Index, Family, Bookmarks, History and Groups. I use all these options and couldn't live without them. They work in perfect harmony with the other main views.
Legacy - no Side bar. The closest it comes is showing bookmarks at the bottom of the screen. They are not sorted alphabetically so it hard to sort through them. If you try to bookmark a female that is married it's even worst to locate them because your forced to bookmark the couple and the husband is listed first. It takes less clicks to move through bookmarked people in RootsMagic than it does in Legacy.
AQ - no side bar
3. Groups - I use Groups all the time. It helps me break down my work into manageable sections. I need the ability to create groups easily, identify what they pertain to, and make as many as I want. I need to be able to mark people in the group based on one criteria and then remove people from the group based on a different criteria. Then I want to see who's in them and have easy access to them. RootsMagic does this seamlessly.
Legacy - Instead of Groups there are Tags. You can only create 9 different Tags. If you want to create a Tag based on search criteria you have to go to a totally different part of the program to search then jump back to make a Tag out of the results. But, you can't search on every fact that you made so it's limited. I could only figure out how to add people with a fact, but I couldn't figure out how to remove people from the list that had a different fact. So I can't make the same groups in Legacy that I can in RootsMagic. I couldn't find a way to work with the people I tagged. I could move through them one at a time, export them or make a report but that's not what I wanted to do. I want to review the list like I can with the Side Bar in RootsMagic and jump to the people as needed.
AQ - uses Tags. The limit is 7 different tags. You can only assign 3 tags to a single person. The limitations on how many tags and how many times I can tag one person makes this extremely limiting. You have to use Custom Reports and Filter/Focus to work with the people you tagged. Filtering in AQ is so hard for me to understand it just isn't logical to me. I also didn't have a way to exclude people based on a different fact from the group I tagged. Since all I get is a paper report I have no easy way to work with the people that I created tags for.
4. Timeline view - the ability to see a person and their family members' events in chronological order. This view also allows me to edit the person or family members facts as needed. You can also jump between family members and show their timeline view. It also allows me to have the same database open twice or two separate databases open side by side and then edit both without having to open and close the Edit Person screen.
Legacy - Chronology view is the same concept as the RootsMagic Timeline. You can edit the person the view is about, but not the family members. You can't jump between family members, and it doesn't show as many family members either. You can't edit two database at the same time without having to open and close the Individual view window. In fact when you do open two databases at the same time the formatting gets all weird and you can't read what's on the screen.
AQ - Timeline view - you can jump to other family members Timeline view by clicking on them. I could not find a way to edit the person's information from within the Timeline view. This would make having two databases side by side for comparison and editing pointless for me. I did try to look for a way to even see two databases open at the same time and for the life of me I can't see how to do that in AQ. The help didn't tell me how either. I can only assume it doesn't have that capability.
5. FamilySearch Family Tree - I have added a custom fact with a code to everyone I work with in my database on FT. With this custom fact I can create very specific groups which I can use as an extra filter in the FamilySearch Person Tools to narrow down people I want to work on. For example: I can open FamilySearch Central click on the Done link and then narrow the list further by clicking on Filter to work with my group called Cards. This allows me to see immediately if a family member just completed a temple card I gave them. I can select the person and then on the Ordinances tab I can move the dates to my database. RootsMagic allows me to work in an organized manner and be efficient about it without a lot of complications.
Legacy - Their screens are similar to RootsMagic but missing the features I need to perform the same tasks. There is a way to filter all the people with ordinances completed, but I cannot find a way to filter on a second level my tagged people.
AQ - I already knew using my groups would be difficult to translate into AQ. The thing I was really surprised with was the lack of being able to filter people in my database on any level working with FT. It looks like I would have to click on one FT icon at a time to launch the FT features. In fact as I played with this feature it kept closing on me. Then I realized every time you click save it automatically closes you out of the FT window. Then you have to open it again to see the changes you made. This was not time productive at all.
Somethings I liked better in the other programs.
Legacy - Legacy Home tab which allows you to see your To-Do Items you scheduled to work on by a specific date. It also has a birthdays, death date and anniversaries reminder. I like Legacy's Charting program better than RootsMagic. I also like being able to get to the RINs and MRINs easier in Legacy.
AQ - NetFam Collaboration feature. Interesting concept where you can put your AQ file on their server and allow other family members to check it out. They can update the file, check it back in and then you can both take turns making edits to the file. I just wish I had a need for it. So far I don't have anyone in my family wanting to add to my research. You can also get to the RINs and MRINs easier in AQ.
For extra credit we had to tell our classmates about a mobile genealogy app for the iPad, iPod or Android platform and what you liked or didn't like about it.
I use the RootsMagic App on my iPad and love it. When you have color-coded your family in the RootsMagic program it really looks great viewing them in the app. You feel like your showing a piece of artwork to your family. Here are some of my favorite things about the app.
1. View all details about a person, notes, sources, media and their family members
2. View your To-Do items and Research log. Sometimes when I am just stuck waiting for events or things to happen I will just look at them and think them over. It really helps the pondering process and to figure out a game plan for research.
3. Relationship calculator is a handy tool. Having your database and that tool helps you answer family inquires away from home.
4. Soundex Code - we don't use this much anymore, but I have come across times away from home where I needed to know the soundex code for a surname. If you didn't know the soundex code there wasn't any way to use a repositories index. I have forgotten how to manually do the soundex code so this is a real life saver.